President Joe Biden announced a new Pentagon-wide task force that will focus on challenges posed by China, and he directly addressed service members around the world, promising not to politicize their work.
Biden spoke during his first visit to the Department of Defense as president, where he was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and met with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. They also honored Black Americans who served in the military and toured the African Americans in Service Corridor at the Pentagon.
The task force on China will present recommendations to Secretary Austin in order to “chart a strong path forward on China related matters,” Biden said in his first Pentagon address Wednesday.
“The task force will work quickly, joining our civilian and military experts across the department to provide, within the next few months, recommendations … key priorities and decision points,” Biden said.
“That will require a whole government effort, bipartisan cooperation in Congress, and strong alliances and partnerships,” he added.
Last week, Biden announced that there would also be a broad review of the military’s global force posture. He also directed the department to freeze the withdrawal of troops in Germany, which the previous administration had ordered.
In his remarks Wednesday, Biden spoke directly to troops, calling them incredible heroes and patriots.
“I will never, ever dishonor you. I will never disrespect you. I will never politicize the work you do,” Biden said.
“As I’ve said, this is personal for me,” the president added, referring to his son, Beau, who served in Iraq. “We learned firsthand some of what your loved ones experienced.”
Both the president and vice president also took time to honor Black troops in their remarks on Wednesday, highlighting their accomplishments early on in American history, such as the Tuskegee Airmen and Black soldiers that fought in the Civil War.
“Let us honor also today the Black soldiers who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Black infantry of the Civil War, the Black WAVES of World War II, the many courageous Americans who, throughout our history, have answered the call to duty,” Vice President Harris said.
“They didn’t just join to make history. They joined to serve. And all of you joined to serve.”
In his remarks Wednesday, Biden said that as Commander-in-Chief, he would never hesitate to use force when necessary, but he also noted that he viewed it as a “tool of last resort.” The president promised to bring a “responsible end” to “wars that have dragged on” for too long.